Pak Taliban turning to Mafia-style tactics to extort money in Karachi

Karachi, Feb 6: The Pakistani Taliban has embraced mafia-style tactics to extort money from victims in some parts of Karachi.

In 2012 alone, police said at least 115 different establishments in Karachi have been victims of what locals now dub the “terror tax”. Many more such incidents may not have been reported to authorities. While other mafia groups are also guilty of such shakedowns in Karachi, the police said the Taliban is one of the worst offenders, reports CBS News.

The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), is an umbrella group of Islamic militants originating from Pakistan’s northern tribal region.

Just three years ago, it was the Awami National Party (ANP) — a left-wing, secular group affiliated with Pakistan’s large Pashtun population that controlled areas of Karachi.

Though ANP-linked men frequently asked small business owners for “protection money”, many businesses were left alone because they already supported the party financially or politically, the report said.

These days the Taliban has mostly driven out the ANP. It has taken hold of parts of Karachi, taking advantage of endemic poverty, a corrupt municipal government and a growing immigrant population.

Some supporters of the Taliban said the group’s presence has rid the area of immoral activities like drugs and prostitution, making them more popular.

Security analysts worry that with the Taliban’s growing presence in Karachi Pakistan’s stores of nuclear weapons and other arms could fall into the wrong hands.

Although many businesses report extortion to the Karachi police, rarely do they respond. One Karachi police officer said police are hesitant to even enter large parts of northern Karachi.

City officials and political activists say that to effectively fight the Taliban in Karachi, a strong police force is vital. (ANI)